A report by Mercy López on today’s front page gives you an overview of the “branding and marketing” meeting that took place last week in Las Vegas. I was one among about two dozen people to attend — and I came away with some thoughts of my own.
One is that a community’s reputation is tightly wrapped up in its own self-identity.
But before I put Las Vegas on the couch for psychoanalysis, here’s some background about the meeting: It was organized and led by Jim Glover of The Idea Group of Santa Fe, so he could publicly present his findings after weeks of interviews, focus group meetings and a survey of local opinions and perceptions about our town. His findings aren’t necessarily surprising (nor are they fully representative of a cross-section of the city’s residents) but they did provide insight into how we see ourselves, our problems and our strengths. And that, I learned at the meeting, is a big first step in “branding and marketing” ourselves to the larger world.
Glover was able to develop a long list of positive and negative attributes of our city, according to the people who live here. Then he offered ideas on how to fix some of the problems and build on certain strengths.
I think one of Glover’s greatest insights came through a simple statement he made in the meeting: “Whatever it is that we like, let’s share that with our visitors.”
In other words, what we like about ourselves is the most marketable thing we’ve got going for us. And this is where I put our town on the couch: If we don’t like ourselves, how can we expect anyone else to like us?
Or, perhaps you don’t care what people think about Las Vegas. I think I agree with that sentiment, but only to an extent. After all, there’s something to be said for taking pride in one’s appearance.
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Ideas also came out of the meeting, and some of them are great ones.
But, I must say, that’s all they are at this point. A youth-focused community center at the old Baptist church at Seventh and University, for example, is a great idea, but it won’t happen unless the community, not just United World College, puts more than just a grant-writing effort behind it.
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Here’s another “big idea,” as Glover called it: a Las Vegas film and media symposium. It sounds great, but the odds are against it. Yes, we are an excellent location for just such an event, and yeah, it could be a real moneymaker for the city, and you bit it could put us on the map, but I’m not sure we could mount the united effort it would take to make it happen. Even our best efforts are too fractured.
Maybe that’s why Glover got excited about the idea behind Las Vegas United, or LVU. Remember that one? It’s an informal proposal (which I’ve touted a couple of times in this column) that we create an umbrella organization of organizations with, as Glover said, “no power and no purse.” Instead, the organization would serve as a way to bring the community together when we need to work as one. It would act as a launching point for something we often lack as a community — unity of purpose.
LVU would require no funding or staff — only a genuine willingness to unite for a better Las Vegas. There’s a one-page draft proposal circulating. If you want to read it, contact me and I’ll be happy to send it your way.
An example of what LVU could accomplish: the community center at Seventh and National.
Tom McDonald is editor and publisher of the Optic. He may be reached at 505-425-6796 or firstname.lastname@example.org.